Feb. 10, 2017 – The Legal Action Center (“LAC”) has submitted comments on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”)’s recent Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“SNPRM”), released on January 18, 2017. This SNPRM requests stakeholder comments on additional proposed changes to the regulations governing the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records (“42 C.F.R. Part 2” or “Part 2”). The proposed changes are in addition to changes already made to 42 C.F.R. Part 2 by a Final Rule released on the same date.
Although both the Final Rule and the SNPRM are on hold until at least March 20, 2017, pursuant to a memorandum from President Trump, LAC strongly encourages other stakeholders to comment. While it is not clear that the February 17, 2017 deadline in the SNPRM still applies, LAC is adhering to that deadline and advises others to do so as well.
The SNPRM seeks to clarify how lawful holders of Part 2-protected substance use disorder information may disclose that information to their contractors, subcontractors, and legal representatives for the purposes of carrying out payment, health care operations, and other health care related activities. The SNPRM also proposes changes to the notice of the prohibition on re-disclosure. LAC understands that there may be a legitimate need for some of the proposed changes, but is concerned the changes are written so broadly that they may threaten core Part 2 protections. Therefore, LAC has recommended that SAMHSA include additional patient protections to balance the increased flexibility created by the proposed changes.
To facilitate stakeholders’ comments, LAC will also release a shorter template for stakeholder use in the near future.